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2014 Minnesota Vikings: Mike Zimmer Calls Out Vikings Defense for Wrong Alignments, “Worst He’s Seen in a Long Time”

The Vikings game against the Dolphins was another heartbreaker with a fourth-quarter collapse that saw a team that hadn’t led all game to put up 23 points (21 of which one can pin on the defense outright) on three drives—seven points a drive, if we count the one play at the beginning of the quarter that gave the Dolphins a lead.

Most concerning about the collapse might be the way it happened. While it was clear from the broadcast that there were instances of confusion in the second half, Zimmer made the point stark about how the defense fell apart:

Misalignment is a pretty serious problem, though it’s fair to wonder if the cause is a new player taking on “green dot” duties, wearing the helmet that receives the defensive playcalls. Chad Greenway sat out the second half with a knee injury, and it fell upon Gerald Hodges to relay the plays to the rest of the defense, along with occasional duties to call audibles and redetermine alignment. At times, however, players like safety Harrison Smith may be more responsible for seeing the offense and making adjustments.

While I’m not sure that Gerald Hodges taking the green dot helmet caused the issues, it could be the case. It’s hard to parse this sort of thing from halftime adjustments, but Ryan Tannehill passed for 5.2 adjusted net yards per attempt and Lamar Miller ran for 4.7 yards a carry (5.4 yards a play) in the first half and they improved those marks to 11.8 adjusted net yards per attempt and 5.0 yards a carry, while the Dolphins moved to an astounding 7.5 yards a play.

Three touchdowns in the fourth quarter (and two more in the third) stands in clear contrast to the one touchdown allowed in the first half. A quick review of the broadcast tape in the second half may reveal why. Though the final drive involved a number of blown coverages that were simply the result of talent and technique, there were a number of plays where it seems obvious that misalignment was at fault (and a few others where it could be debated):

Misalignment - Clay Completion 2 Misalignment - Clay Completion Misalignment - Landry Completion 2 Misalignment - Landry Completion

Those are only the ones that are easy to identify and in the passing game—a few runs could have come about as a result of bad gap discipline and misalignment (the zone read with Tannehill may be a good example) and a few other completions in the second half could have been at fault; for example the Clay completion above that Xavier Rhodes ends up tackling may have been a mid-play adjustment by him to chase Clay, or it could have been an assignment he badly blew.

Whatever the cause, defenders out of alignment leads to offensive points. The Vikings played terribly, and this may be one reason why.

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  1. Glad he’s pissed. I am too, it was clear that this was beyond normal suck. It was really bad.

  2. Horrible game by the defense

    It’s almost Christmas and Brad Childress is the “spread offense expert” for the Kansas City Chiefs
    makes ya wonder what marginal Chief WR Chilly wants to cut on Christmas Eve

    my money is on Frankie Hammond. That chump has had only 4 catches all season. It’s reasonable to assume Childo will blame him for the abysmal season the Chief WR’s are having this year.

  3. There’s one in the beginning where smith and i think rhodes run into each other. Floyd shoots inside on another and tackles the wrong guy. Which wasn’t bad but the second time he did it, he left his gap empty.

    The early game run blocking was good. I guess that is the dolphin’s weakness and we really didn’t take advantage of that enough.

  4. Yep. This is what I heard Zimmer say in the interview on too.
    On the plus side, he also said,
    “You can bet your butt I’ll fix the defense.” – Coach Zimmer
    So much better than, “I need to review the tape”. Great to see a Head Coach taking full responsibility and not being mealy-mouthed about a bad performance. I have faith that he will indeed, fix things.

    1. zimmer’s pressers are honest and genuine. ya don’t get cliches. he sometimes thinks a bit before he answers, and he’s got a company watch dog he looks towards after he says some things, like the bet your butt comment, where he said he probably shouldn’t have said that, but it’s refreshing to see in today’s polished, PC society. zimmer will make these guys fix it, or he’ll take their playing time

      i’m really looking forward to next week’s zimmer pressers, as he’s said he would give more evaluation after the season, then we’ll get our first off-season refinements, and hopefully, a big jump in performance next year. though i don’t expect a huge improvement in our record, due to our schedule, we might have a chance to win our division next year. could be that the nfc north winner gets it with a 9-7 record

      after this next game, we will have played through half of our games at the bank. i hope the team embraces the colder weather and decides to leave the doors open at the new stadium when we have warm weather teams come in for cold, late season games, but i doubt that they’ll do that for fear of ticking off the fans